Research finding summaries

Why Didn’t Marx Finish Capital?

Several scholars have suggested that Marx never finished his planned volumes on Capital due to his recognition of unsolvable problems with his theory, in particular the so-called transformation problem of labor values and the law of the falling rate of profit. However, the ultimate culprit for Capital remaining unfinished seems to be the combination of such theoretical riddles – theories he continued to work on but never abandoned – with Marx's perfectionism and his insatiable appetite for knowledge. Marx’s perfectionism and severe self-criticism repeatedly led him to the latest scientific findings in many fields, but it also prevented the finishing of the manuscripts. This is most clearly evidenced by Marx reading frantically about the newest economic and social developments in the major capitalist countries in fields ranging from agriculture to financial panics.

By |2020-02-12T17:46:23-05:00Feb 12, 2020|

Associational Power and Labor Reform in Chile

Why did the Bachelet reform project fail to dismantle the regulations on collective bargaining, union organization, and strike activity established during the Pinochet dictatorship? In my research, I found that the disparity between capitalists’ and workers’ associational power was a central factor shaping the outcomes of this most recent reform process.

By |2020-02-05T11:07:10-05:00Feb 5, 2020|

Laboring Bodies at the Choke Point

By focusing my research on the laboring body from a materialist perspective, I seek to bring in a third perspective to the debate on logistics choke points, that so far oscillates between a euphoric framing as a "magic bullet" to trade union movement revitalization, on the one hand, and a dysphoric framing as laboratories for company and state surveillance, control and security measures, on the other.

By |2020-01-30T16:43:20-05:00Jan 30, 2020|

Variegated Social Reproduction as Critical Thinking

Variegated social reproduction as a conceptual lens is meant to acknowledge that the unfolding of the contradiction between capital accumulation and the conditions of social reproduction is not uniform but uneven and variegated, involving developments that are sometimes unanticipated.

By |2020-01-23T09:15:32-05:00Jan 22, 2020|

Lessons of Rojava and Histories of Abolition

Abolitionists and anti-authoritarians are right to be inspired by example of Rojava but translating the lessons of the Revolution to a wildly different political context like the United States is no simple task. The impasse between a rejection of abolition and the tired revolution/reform binary can be resolved by returning to fundamentals of historical materialism, and particularly, W.E.B. Du Bois' analysis of “abolition democracy” in his seminal work, Black Reconstruction.

By |2020-01-15T18:11:30-05:00Jan 15, 2020|

Welfare Against Work

Existing scholarship on the movement has either ignored the NWRO's antiwork perspective, or else insisted that the NWRO’s critiques of waged work were primarily gendered. Based on a careful analysis of the organization's archives, Wilson Sherwin makes a compelling case that an antiwork agenda was central to the NWRO's politics.

By |2020-02-01T07:03:21-05:00Jan 8, 2020|

What’s Wrong with Rent and the Rentier?

It is of course true that monopoly power is not unique to rentierism. It frequently characterizes other forms of capitalist enterprise as well. But rentierism is distinctive insofar as it is the form of capitalism to which monopoly power is inherent. Monopoly infuses the way in which rentier assets are owned and controlled. And it infuses the manner in which such assets are commercialized to generate rental income. In short, the rentier sweats monopoly from every pore. And that is the problem.

By |2019-12-19T02:45:01-05:00Dec 18, 2019|

Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Unfree Labour

Although most labour rights activists readily identify the status of these migrant workers as legally unfree, there is, however, a deeper form of unfreedom and coercion in the labour market that deserves much more attention than it receives in discussions of unfreedom. This unfreedom and coercion is not reducible to a legal status but is instead rooted in the very nature of the relationship between employer and worker in capitalist society.

By |2019-11-27T11:19:34-05:00Nov 27, 2019|

Marx and the Dutch East India Company

Marx's examination of Dutch colonial violence in Indonesia highlight's important aspects of his approach to original accumulation that are easily lost when viewing the chapter, "the so-called original accumulation," through the lens of English exceptionalism, as many Marxists are prone to do.

By |2019-11-05T12:31:37-05:00Nov 5, 2019|

Du Bois and the Jefferson School of Social Science

The Jefferson School of Social Science's mission was not only to educate cadre in Marxist theory, students were also expected to take that education into the street in mass actions including protests, and political organizing. This mission resonated with W.E.B. Du Bois’ goal to create inter-racial solidarity for an equitable future. The Jefferson School provided him the opportunity to bring that sentiment to the masses, and more importantly fix Africa and Black Americans in the vision for a socialist future predicated on the unity of all the oppressed.

By |2019-10-29T17:13:35-04:00Oct 29, 2019|